Returning Officer can reject nomination paper if information not provided in affidavit: SC

Clarifying its earlier decisions, a large Bench of the Supreme Court of India ruled that the Returning Officers (during elections) has power to reject the nomination paper of a candidate if it (candidate) fails to provide information required in the affidavit.
“The ultimate purpose of filing of affidavit along with the nomination paper is to effectuate the fundamental right of the citizen under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The citizens are required to have the necessary information at the time of filing of the nomination paper in order to make a choice of their voting. When a candidate files an affidavit with blank particulars, it renders the affidavit itself nugatory,” the Court said.
“….it is the duty of the Returning Officer to check whatever the information required is fully furnished at the time of filing of affidavit with the nomination paper since such information is very vital for giving effect to the ‘right to know’ of the citizens. If a candidate fails to fill the blanks even after the reminder by the Returning Officer, the nomination paper is fit to be rejected. We do comprehend that the power of Returning Officer to reject the nomination paper must be exercised very sparingly but the bar should not be laid so high that the justice itself is prejudiced,” the Court added.
The Court further said that the candidate must take the minimum effort to explicitly remark as ‘NIL’ or ‘Not Applicable’ or ‘Not known’ in the columns and not to leave the particulars blank, if he desires that his nomination paper be accepted by the Returning Officer.

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